It is the Internet and it lures you to post something or the other anywhere in the form of Digital Footprints. That ‘something’, written by you can be used against you or might show you in poor light. You want it to be removed. But how do you remove your name and other information from search engines and search results? Likewise, someone might write something to malign you and close comments so that it cannot be corrected. Is it possible to get such content removed? Check out how to go about getting your personal information removed from the Internet.
Remove your name from search engines
Google or Bing yourself to find out what is known about you
The first thing after you find that some search engine, like Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc, is displaying results that lead to a loss of reputation or privacy, is to find out what else is negative about you on the Internet. In other words, if you find something offensive or bad, you need to know what else is there outside that can ruin your privacy and/or reputation.
One thing to be sure is that your LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook profiles will sure appear in the results – if not on the first page, on second or third at least. You have to be very careful about what you write about yourself – what you share or what you Like.
First names and last names can match so there is reason to doubt if the profile is indeed yours. You as well as others can check the profile completely to know if it is you. Then, if you add something else to the name, the search results are narrowed to show different results showing YOU and YOUR CONTRIBUTION to the Internet. It will also show OTHER’s VIEW of you and your products/services. For example, if you type ARUN KUMAR in the Google search bar, you will get a LinkedIn profile that is not about me. But if you type ARUN KUMAR AT THE WINDOWS CLUB, you will soon see my profile at The Windows Club and links to some of my articles on the website. IF the profile were to contain anything bad, I would be embarrassed and would want it to be removed.
Using the same technique, say JACKLINE FROM WORDSMOUTH may bring about some results that Jackline might not like. She would want it removed. There may be a blog that was created to spoil her image. Here is a comment I found on the Internet that I wish to share with you. This comment was posted to Abine on a page that talked about using Bing to remove your name.
“I gave an opinion on a book and it wasn’t the opinion this woman would have wanted so she’s gone on her blog and written a malicious completely untrue article that is a plan to smear me. I’ve tried to challenge and correct the unfounded claims, but she’s refused to publish my response thereby giving a very one sided view of events. For someone who claims to be a feminist, bisexual atheist activist, I am puzzled that she’s so opposed to an open and balanced due process of establishing facts. I have written to both the webmaster as well as the web host and it seems that I would have to resort to the last option which is a legal process”
This is a tough case and I guess the only recourse left for the lady is to really go for a legal recourse. But it not be always a court order. In fact, there are simple methods that help you get your name removed from the search engines. I will list few simple methods here and if they work, you do not have to go to your lawyer. That should always be the last recourse.
First of all, approach the website owners
Before you go to Google or Bing to remove some link that showcases your information, you have to get the actual piece removed. The actual piece would normally be a website or a blog. And in most cases, the problem is solved by communication between the blog owner and you.
The reason you have to approach the website or blog is because search engines are just indexes. Even if they remove the information link (which they won’t until satisfied), there would be high chances of the link reappearing when the website or blog is crawled first.
Hence, the first method is to contact the blog owner using the information on the Contact Us phone. Abine had an article where it says persistence is the key. I second that. In case you do not get any response and the material is still there, you need to send another email and another. Or if they have a phone number displayed, call them. Make a compelling case as to how the information puts you or your family etc. in danger before requesting them to remove the information. This must be done cautiously, with utmost respect – just as you make sales – so that the website owners or the blog owners really do what you want. You can take help of your friends if you are not good at communicating.
If the repeated requests to remove your name from the blog or website go unheard, you have two recourses. First is to contact an online reputation firm, which charges for its services or to go to search engines for removal or blocking of the links.
Reach Out To Search Engines
You can contact online reputation firms if you have spare money to spend. Not all reputation companies can help 100 percent. Check out the good ones and go with them if you are willing.
If not, the best method left is to go and tell the search engines that there is some material on the Internet that is creating or may create problems for you. It could be something against you; it could be something you posted when very emotional or just anything. Remember that the search engines too, have their own limitations that they state in their terms and conditions.
For instance, Bing will remove information only if it is one of the following types:
- Gives away private information of people;
- Copyrighted material used without permission;
- Porn related links that do not say it is an adult site
Bing has a common form for takedown requests while Google has a complex process for removal of material. If the link is your own, you can use Google Webmaster dashboard. In either case, you need to have a Google account. Complete the formalities and hope the search engines accede to your request.
Going to Court
If it is very important to get the material removed and the webmasters/bloggers are not paying heed, you may go and talk to your lawyer. But this is the last recourse one should take as it involves both time and money. Even then, the removal may not be guaranteed until it falls under the T&C of the website to which you signed up. Online Reputation Management companies may help, but you cannot say if they will be completely successful. They are, however, less effective compared to courts. But you can try such a company first before going to the court. Check out the companies that offer a refund if the job is not done and hire them before you approach a lawyer.
This explains how to remove your name from search engines and results. If you think I missed any point or if you have anything to add, please share it with us.